Nestled between towns on the outskirts of both Queens and Brooklyn is a neighborhood that I’ve come to know as The Hole. I can’t remember how I’d heard about it or whether a suggestion from a friend or a late night tour through the odd end of the internet had piqued my curiosity but I finally went through it last Wednesday.
The mystique of this neighborhood arose from the photos and the stories I had read: Houses fallen into ruin on marshy land. Abandoned and derelict homes can be found throughout the five boroughs of New York City as well as crumbling neighborhoods but what I had heard about The Hole was different. It was supposedly a ghost town a dumping ground for mafia-related victims and men on horses from the Black Cowboys Federation used the streets to ride their horses on. But when my friend and I drove through the jewel-named streets, we found cars parked in driveways and homes occupied by local residents who paid no attention to the Crown Victoria with tinted windows aimlessly rolling by. My friend and I wondered if we were in the wrong neighborhood but after double checking the descriptions we had read, we realized that we were in the right place. It was when we drove around another time that we noticed a fence that surrounded a large lot spanning several city blocks. Through the holes between the fence, I recognized a hill from a photo I had seen as well as the guts of buildings that had been torn down to their foundation. The Hole, for the most part, seemed to be gone.
Disappointed, we drove to another part of the neighborhood where we found a single abandoned building that seemed barely stand where it was. The windows and door in the front were boarded, however we had to see if we could somehow get in. My friend parked his car and we walked across the front yard toward the back. The windows and back door were open so that we could peak into the flooded basement. There was torn slats of wood jutting from the ceiling to reveal a gaping hole where the walls of the first floor could be seen.
I hadn’t walked into an abandoned building like this in a long time. With all of the stories floating around the web, I was nervous while walking up the steps into the dilapidated husk of this find. Glass cracked and crumpled beneath my Converse shoes. The floor creaked as I stepped through the rooms of the first floor. I raised my camera to take my first shot of this decaying work of art. Fissures had grown in the wood beams with the passing seasons and corners where dust had accumulated a colony of moss and dirt, sucked in shadow and light.
A dark and ominous entryway led into the basement but the flood had gotten to it and appeared to be a few feet deep. The flooring of another room at the other end of the house had given way down to the basement. Tiled walls and a bathtub, barely clinging onto the base of whatever ground was left, suggested that this was the bathroom. One foot inside this room and you’d fall right into the water that had flooded the basement below.
While looking at the broken beams of wood, cracks in the walls and ceiling as well as the rusting shells of an old kitchen appliance, I imagined the decades of use in this house. Who lived, loved and died in this building? Other than a fallen wood cabinet in what was likely the living room, there was hardly a trace of a personal touch or love. It felt as impersonal to me as a sheet of blank paper, which made me feel kind of sad. Houses are vehicles of energy from whomever lives or had lived in them and yet this one felt like nothing. I imagined that the last occupants very much wanted to leave.
If you get a chance to check this out, do so before it’s all torn down.
*Click on the first photo to open gallery.
April 23, 2013
New York City
December 5, 2012
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